Questions for Me

From His Stories

Joshua 5-6 and John 6

When you read the Bible, what do you read it for? Is it merely a collection of stories? Great history? Interesting information? Or are these stories more than that? Do they give us something that will open us up to the Creator of the universe? Will it speak to our thought and memories and give us understanding? We can and should live our lives and order our memories not only historically but theologically, not simply recollecting what happened or what we did but searching out what God was doing. This keeps us from over honoring ourselves in success or despairing in our struggles. Part of the key to enjoying peace is to be continually praising the Lord for what he has done and is doing for us because the stories we read and tell of our lives are not so much about us but about Him. Are you reading to find the principles in the story? Or reading it like a homework assignment?

Today’s devotion is taken from John 6 and Judges 5-6. Some of the greatest stories and life lessons ever written about are in these chapters. Did you read the story of the feeding of the 5000 and see Jesus bring his disciples into responsibility when he asks them, “Where shall we find bread for these people to eat?”. What does that say to you? Or how about when Jesus walks across the lake! Can you imagine the disciples’ fear, amazement and awe? Who is this Jesus? Matthew even records that Peter walks out to see him. What faith! What courage! And then to sink and have Jesus say, “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?” Or how about in the Old Testament when Gideon lays out a fleece and gets an answer and asks again? Did he not like the first answer? Did he doubt? Was he afraid?

So many questions arise from these stories. So many principles to glean from them. Are you wrestling with them? Do you search for God in them? Do you see what God wants you to know? Don’t rush reading these stories but find God in them and use that to understand him more. Happy reading and may you draw closer to God as you work through all that God has to say to you.

-Andy Cisneros

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Joshua 5-6 and John 6

At the Crossroads

Jeremiah 4-6

Jeremiah 6 16 NIV sgl

Imagine that you are on vacation. You are searching for a special restaurant that you wanted to visit while in the area. However, you get lost and come to a crossroads. You don’t know which way to go.  There are two clear options that you have. You can either look for guidance from your GPS or you could ask a local. The other option is relying on yourself to figure out the way even though you are at a loss.

There are many lessons that are taken out of Jeremiah 4-6, but perhaps the one that stands out the most is found in chapter 6. In verse 16 it talks of standing at the crossroads. It says that we should seek the ancient paths when at the crossroads of life. We need to seek the guidance offered to us.

There are many crossroads in life such as the one in the vacation example. However, the crossroads are sometimes not as material as the one in the example. The crossroads we face are not necessarily physical. Many times, they are mental and spiritual ones. Sometimes we feel lost and we do not know where to go next. We don’t know what decision to make, where we should go, or even if we should take that job, or go to that college. Life is full of decisions.

In these times of uncertainty, though, we do not have to find the right way on our own. God is there and if we seek him, he will lead us. He will direct our steps. If we go it on our own, more than likely we will take a wrong turn. We will end up feeling more lost and confused than we did in the beginning. If we rely on ourselves and our sense of direction in an area that is foreign to us, we could get in trouble. We could follow a road that would take us into the bad part of town or to a place where the bridge is out.

However, if we ask for guidance; if we seek the ancient ways, as Jeremiah calls it, we will be set in the right direction. The locals and the GPS have wisdom and perspective that we do not.

How do we seek these ancient ways? Reading the Bible, digging into that Word, and prayer is a great way to seek this guidance. I have come across many so-called crossroads. Some of them more confusing than others. These crossroads included times when I didn’t know where I should work, if I should serve in a certain mission field or not, what I should study in college, and figuring out how I should react in certain situations. I would always feel confused in these situations, but when I remembered to pray, it seemed to come into perspective. That guidance and comparing the aspects of the situation to the stories in the Bible helps me to make these decisions. By seeking the counsel of the LORD, I was able to know which way to go when brought to the crossroads. Prayer is a powerful tool that we have graciously been given access. So let us use what has been made available to us.

 

Hannah Deane

 

Today’s Bible passage, Jeremiah 4-6 , can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+4-6&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Jeremiah 7-9 as we continue our journey through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Starving for God

Job 21-23

Job 23 12b NIV

Poor Job.  I do pity him.  But not just for the extreme losses and suffering he endured.  Not just for the additional pain of unsympathetic, accusing friends.  But for being born when he was.

Previously we have mentioned Job’s yearning for a mediator – someone to stand before God on his behalf.  Someone in the middle who would reach out his hands to touch both God and man and draw them together.  Wise Job.  Can you imagine how thrilled he would have been to have the opportunity to meet, listen to, accept and follow the Messiah, God’s Son Jesus?  But, it wasn’t time yet.

It also wasn’t time yet for him to hold God’s precious living, giving words of life in his lap.  Job knew the power and gift of God’s words.  He stated, “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread” (Job 23:12).  But, at this time in history God would speak when He chose, where He chose, to whom He chose, and the record of his words would be passed down, mostly orally, to any who would listen. It was a good start – but Job longed for more.  He said:

“If only I knew where to find him;
if only I could go to his dwelling!
 I would state my case before him
and fill my mouth with arguments.
 I would find out what he would answer me,
and consider what he would say to me.”

(Job 23:3-5, NIV)

We know that Job will get the amazing opportunity to have the Almighty speak directly to him (that is coming in next week’s reading).  But that didn’t help him yet at the time of today’s passage.  He is searching for God.  He is starving for God’s word.  He needs to hear from God.  And he does not yet have the gift of God-breathed scriptures on his lap or in the palm of his hand.  God’s Word is powerful and a great treasure.  What a blessing we have in the gift of the Bible – where we find God, His wisdom, love, majesty, truth, encouragement, correction, as well as His Son, forgiveness, and a hope and a plan for eternal life.  It is an incredible gift to hear God.  It is an incredible gift to read the words of God.  It is a gift we too often ignore.

God warns that His Word will not always be readily available.  “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine through the land– not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.” (Amos 8:11). Perhaps He was first referring to the 400 years of silence that would take place between the inspired Old Testament and New Testament.  But, I fear that it also refers to a time in the end days.  Perhaps we are seeing the beginnings of it even now.  Prepare by stockpiling God’s Word in your heart now.  It will help you both today and tomorrow.

If you ever feel God is distant – check to see how far away your closest Bible is.

If you ever feel you can’t hear God – turn off the distractions and open His Word.

If you ever feel you are starving for God – feast on His Word.

 

Seeking God in His Word,

Marcia Railton

 

To read or listen to today’s passage – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+21-23&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Job 24-28 in our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

 

 

 

E.R.

Psalm 119

emoyer-ER

 

E.R. debuted in 1994.  Each week, episodes were filled with exciting, heart wrenching and dramatic events based in a Chicago hospital emergency room.  The show often portrayed incredible measures taken as residents applied their medical school backgrounds to treat and save patients.   
Well, there are times we all find other things that we might put first in our day to day lives.  We may need some “healing” or “revival” in our own relationship with God.  Eleven times in Psalm 119 it mentions some sort of revival.  Terms like preserve, restore, spare, give, are mentioned throughout this chapter.  In the darkest of hours you may not feel like His Word is enough.  You may not feel like it is relevant to what you are going through or that God is near. You may have filled your time, your actions and your mind with everything but time in His word.  If this feels somewhat familiar to you consider this:  “Feelings follow correct behaviors and not the other way around”.  God’s word is a foundation for us all.  We need to turn to him and be in His word.  Don’t expect a quick fix. Instead, prepare to be transformed by him being more present in our life. So when we stumble, we need to get back up again, be dedicated to reading his word and trust on his strength for a full recovery in our lives.

-Emily Moyer

God Revealed

psalm 100 5

Yesterday we were discussing keeping God at the top of our thankful list – above all the great gifts He has given.  And we said it was easy to let God slip from this spot if we didn’t work at knowing Him more and more.  After all, it’s impossible to be in a thankful relationship with someone I barely know – or rarely think about – or only sporadically spend time with.

And so, daily digging into His Word where He reveals Himself to those who are seeking Him is the best way to deepen our understanding and appreciation of who He is and what He has done for us.  And, as an extra bonus, we also can receive valuable instruction on how to live to please Him when we dive into the 66 love letters He has sent to us.

If someone isn’t used to opening God’s Word to get to know Him better, it might seem a bit daunting.  It is indeed a big book.  A big book written many generations ago.  But still written with YOU in mind.  And written to show you who your Heavenly Father is and how to have a relationship with Him.

Let’s pull up our Psalm for the week and see what we can find out about God in these verses.

Psalm 100

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

So, what do we learn about God…
verse 3 – The Lord is God.   He wants to be known.  He created us.  We belong to Him.  He watches over us.
verse 4 – He has gates and courts – like royalty.
verse 5 – God is good.  He is loving and His love lasts.  He is faithful – forever.
That’s a lot to learn about God in just 5 short verses!  Whether we are reading a short psalm of 5 verses or the historical account of the Israelites escaping Egypt, God is revealing himself in His Word.  And He wants to meet you there.
-Marcia Railton

Bible Study Crash Course: Part 2 – Psalm 1

bible

This week, we’ve been focusing on the importance of God’s word for our lives. Yesterday, we focused on the nitty gritty aspects of Bible Study. Today, we’re going to look at the bigger picture as we wrap up the week!

So, when we think about Bible Study, we should have four phrases in the back of our minds:

Read it

Meditate on it

Memorize it

Live it

Yesterday, we talked about our daily quiet time that normally involves reading the scripture. It’s important to remember that we can study the Bible in different ways! Last year, we looked at the Big Picture of the Bible. We read through it quickly and tried to see how each part of the Bible related to God’s epic plan. We can also study the Bible by studying specific books of the Bible, which we will do beginning this Sunday as we study the book of Proverbs. Another type of study that we can do is a topical study, where we look at specific topics like love or marriage and study what the Bible says about it whenever that topic comes up. Each of these ways of studying the Bible really helps us to have a complete picture of what we’re studying, and so we should try to do them at some point in our study of the Bible.

Once we read the Bible, we should meditate on it. If we look at verse 1-3 of Psalm 1, our key passage for today, we see that the man who meditates on the law of the LORD day and night is blessed! What is the law of the LORD? The Bible! But, what does meditating mean? Generally, it means to “think deeply or carefully about something” or to “consider.” It can be tempting to treat our daily reading of God’s word as a chore that we have to check off our to-do lists. We skim through a chapter or two a day and then close our Bibles without ever thinking about it again. The danger in this is that we never let God’s word sink into our hearts! That’s why it’s so important to meditate on it, to think carefully and deeply about what the Bible says. Yesterday, I mentioned that you could journal after reading to help you think. This is a great option! Prayer also helps us to do this. If you’re artsy, Bible Journaling Art can be a great way to meditate on scripture as you make artwork that relates to what you’ve read.

Another aspect of Bible study that’s important and can help us to meditate on the scripture is memorization. Growing up, I never really saw the value in memorizing scripture. My family is Christian so we had about 15 Bibles to choose from if I really wanted to look up a verse. On top of this, my brothers and I got a laptop to share when I was about 7 or 8 years old. By the time I really cared to look up verses, I always had Google or Bible Gateway at my fingertips. This is even truer now when I constantly carry around my phone. All this being said, even when I know that I have the capability of looking up scripture to help me work through a situation or strengthen my faith, I, unfortunately, don’t choose to do this first thing. A worrier by nature, I immediately start analyzing my situation from my viewpoint, and if it’s a problem that stresses me out too much, I’ll enlist the help up my friends to sort it out. If I don’t have scripture ready at the forefront of my mind that I’ve thought about and hidden in my heart (Ps. 119:11), I’m afraid I won’t turn to it until I’ve already done something that I probably shouldn’t have.

For instance, if I am worried about a situation that’s making me anxious and keeping me up at night, I can (1) journal about it, maybe cry about it, and maybe even call a friend if I’m real upset. OR I can remember Philippians 4:6, which says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” That’s a pretty profound truth that totally changes the way that I think about how to handle the problems that I face!

Memorization is important. It can help you in situations like this. (Because we both know that even if you have a smartphone AND a Bible sitting at your bedside table if scripture isn’t the first thing on your mind, you’ll probably be picking option one in the scenario above.) And, it can help you as you defend your faith (1 Peter 3:15). Look at Jesus’ temptation in the desert in Matthew 4 if you need some more evidence for the importance and benefits of memorizing scripture. This year, you’ll have some great verses picked out for you to help you memorize Scripture each week with these devotions!

Lastly, we should remember our fundamental purpose for why we study the Bible. We want it to change our hearts. We want to know and live for God. If you do the first three phrases consistently in your life, this, in addition to the power of the Holy Spirit, will really begin to make a big change in your life. And, if we check ourselves with this purpose each day, it will be harder to fall into the trap of viewing the reading of God’s word as a stale chore to be tackled each day.

Let’s dedicate ourselves to reading, meditating on, memorizing, and living out the truths we find in God’s word!

My Helper

Isaiah 41-42

isaiah41_10-11

Friday, February 17

 

God gave us all eyes to see and ears to hear. If we are using our eyes and not seeing, and using are ears without hearing, how can we be a proper messenger of God (Isaiah 42:19)? Maybe you’ve read the whole Bible before. So what? If you saw it, but paid no attention and your ears were open, yet you heard nothing, then what good is that? The first step is reading the message, but the most important part is actually understanding it. In order for you to be a light to the world (Matthew 5:14), you need to understand the message that you’re meant to bring to people.

 

If you used to be on fire with the Holy Spirit, but now you’re feeling like you’re running on empty, you aren’t alone. But just because your wick is smoldering (42:3), don’t let it burn out! These winter months can be tough to stay positive but we aren’t called to be a light to the world for just three months out of the year. God is our helper and he will take you by the hand as you grow into a better servant (41:13). Get in touch with your brothers and sisters in Christ, reignite your flame, and bring forth justice to the world!

-Nathaniel Johnson

(Photo credit: http://www.verseoftheday.com/en/02262013/)

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